ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – An Allen County jury found a local man guilty Friday on three counts of murder.
Jacquail Belcher, 30, was accused of shooting to death Breondon Pinkston, 28, Deshaun Devon Richards, 25 and Dernail Ivory Brown, 26, on July 28, 2018, a few minutes after midnight as they rode in a small passenger car at Fourth and Harrison streets.
Belcher was found guilty of murder and of using a firearm in the commission of a murder which typically adds 20 years to a sentence. In all, he faces a maximum of 215 years.
The courtroom was packed to hear the verdict and many of Belcher’s family were there. Outside, they yelled and shouted at each other under the watchful eyes of security.
Police determined that Richards was killed first with a shot to the right temple, a disabling wound that caused an immediate loss of life. He was in the passenger seat behind Pinkston, the driver, who was shot four times, two of them to the upper and lower back, severely injuring his lungs and heart.
Brown, known as Ivory, was seated in the passenger front seat and was shot in the back, but exited the car before it tore off across Wells Street. That was the scene that three witnesses recalled, all of them initially describing the assailant’s appearance as different than Belcher’s features.
The defense attorney said the faulty descriptions were enough to convince the jury that the state got the wrong man. It’s up to the state, he said, to prove a man guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The defense attorney said incriminating DNA- found in the rear passenger seat where the police said Belcher was sitting- shouldn’t be considered because no one knew when Belcher might have touched those surfaces.
But the state’s prosecutors said the evidence when taken together placed Belcher with the three victims at the time of the shooting and afterwards at the Break & Run bar.
An Allen County jail informant who came forward with testimony regarding Belcher’s nickname – “Mad Max” because he was always mad – and his incriminating words that he’d done something bad, he wanted to turn his life around and that he’d “smoked” three people, could be weighed against his denials to the lead homicide detective.
A grainy video caught him walking by the Mission Church, a couple of blocks north of the crime scene and right by Belcher’s biological mother’s house on Cass Street. Earlier phone calls connected to “Baby Joc” on Theresa Belcher’s cell phone came back to short phone calls between Belcher and Richards.
Deshaun Richards’ mother, Goldy Holman, started to trust the detective and told him all four of the young men were at her home about an hour before the shootings and that she’d asked them to leave because there were younger children at her home.
After denying he knew any of the victims, Belcher told the detective during a police interview that he knew “Beans,” the nickname for Richards, and had grown up with him. Then he admitted he might have gotten in the car with them, but didn’t go anywhere with them.
It was Belcher’s contention that he was babysitting his sister/niece and a cousin at his adopted mother’s home on Plaza Drive. Although Belcher didn’t take the stand, Cynthia Bennett, his aunt and adoptive mother, did say Belcher was her main babysitter when she worked Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and that normally she’d get back to her house around 11:30 p.m.
After closings ended around 11:30 a.m., the jury returned barely an hour and a half later with its verdict.
The jurors were swift to agree with the prosecutors that, even without the 9mm used to kill three men in a matter of seconds, the blame went to Belcher.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 6 at 8:30 a.m.